AT&T has come a long way since Alexander Graham Bell.
Over a century after the invention of the telephone in 1879, the telecom giant has constantly pushed the evolution of communication and media forward. The 2014 acquisition of DIRECTV was a recent big move, and the company is currently in process of purchasing Time Warner (which would bring AT&T’s telecommunication holdings under the same umbrella as the Warner Bros. studio, Turner Broadcasting System, and HBO).
With the deep history of innovation and modern focus on entertainment, it is no shocker that AT&T is taking aim at the most immersive medium: virtual and augmented reality technology.
AT&T sponsored us to attend the Developer Summit in Las Vegas, and as it turned out – the force was strong in VR/AR initiatives.
One of the most recognizable faces in the industry, Nonny de la Pena is nicknamed the “Godmother of Virtual Reality.” An award-winning creator and CEO of Emblematic Group, de la Pena is a pioneer in immersive journalism – one of her most famous projects is Project Syria, which was made for the World Economic Forum.
As part of the AT&T Futurecast series, de la Pena spoke about immersive journalism and why virtual reality is the only medium for her to tell the stories she wants.
It seemed like there was some mention of mixed reality technology in almost all the track sessions, which spanned topics from connected home to enterprise to entertainment to ioT – and of course, trends spotting.
One of the exciting VR/AR tools introduced at the show was the Video Resource Optimizer, which helps developers stream content more efficiently to devices – which could eventually help more devices be wireless (cutting the cord cannot come quickly enough!).
The expo hall was packed with VR/AR demos, all finalists in the AT&T VR/AR Challenge – and the Summit attendees got to cast their votes for the winner.
The Challenge: In September, AT&T announced the nationwide developer contest. The mission? To create non-gaming virtual and augmented reality solutions in 5 categories: Film/Content, Education, Sports, and Healthcare.
Two months later, 5 developer teams were still in the race. With $20,000 for the Grand Prize winner, excitement ran high.
Ed Schmit, Executive Director of AT&T, said “We were impressed. We were very happy with not only the number of submissions, but the number of very good quality submissions – and how much the technology has advanced over the last year or so. Having tracked [the VR/AR industry] for a couple of years now, I’m amazed at how rapidly the tools are advancing.”
The developer finalists came from all over the nation, and created VR/AR experiences ranging from data visualization, interactive narrative, education, improving accuracy of fulfillment services, and a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Parks.
The Grand Prize winner was an augmented reality application standout. Using the Microsoft Hololens, WaypointRx is an AR application that allows a layperson to fill a prescription that otherwise could only have been filled by a highly trained pharmacist.
Based out of Boston, WaypointRx is comprised of students from MIT and Harvard. Team member Umar Arshad said the company’s “goal is to use augmented reality to put the knowledge of experts into the hands of everyday people.”
There is a reason why AT&T has been around for over a century: it is a culture of constant innovation and the two-day Developer Summit highlighted the company’s dedication to supporting the developer community.
Power to the creators.
Listen to our latest podcast episode of the VRScout Report where we interview five finalists from the VR/AR Challenge at the AT&T Developer Summit.